BBC creates new departments to focus on future

LONDON - The BBC has announced a wide-ranging series of changes to its structure to ready itself for the challenges of a digital-based future, creating several new departments to manage the process.

The reforms, which are due to be implemented by April next year, are part of the "creative future" vision that address how best to allocate content across all of the corporation's media platforms, in a plan to use the licence fee in a simpler and more efficient way and cut back on BBC bureaucracy. 

The initiative will build on the three-year efficiency drive already under way at the corporation to deliver savings of £355m a year by 2008. 

Mark Thompson, BBC director-general, said: "Today is about making creative culture a reality. It's about how we can make the BBC the most creative organisation in the world, delivering content that our audiences will simply love.

"We need a simpler, more open BBC with the licence-fee flowing down simple, direct lines to the right people, a simpler structure, clearer responsibilities and fewer layers."

The marketing, communications and audiences division, led by Tim Davie, is designated as a creative unit to work closer on content-based issues.

The future media and technology division will be helmed by Ashley Highfield, and will concentrate on emerging technologies and developing new ways for audiences to use content.

Changes will also include a creation of an audio and music group, led by Jenny Abramsky, director of radio, which will deliver audio content for all platforms from on-demand in the home to podcasts and mobile phones.

The factual, drama, entertainment, learning and children's department will come together in a new group, BBC Vision, led by director of television Jana Bennett. 

This group will be responsible for in-house multi-media production, commissioning and audiovisual services, including the TV channel portfolio, and digital services like high-definition and interactive. 

Alan Yentob, creative director at the BBC, will ensure that the creative future recommendations are implemented across all content and services. 

He will also chair the creative training board and creative network, as well as chairing the board of BBC Films and a new arts network, which will pull together arts programme-makers from across the BBC.

Yentob also continues to lead BBC Talent and to present documentary programme 'Imagine'.

As part of the restructure, Caroline Thomson, current director of strategy, will become chief operating officer for the BBC, with overall responsibility for strategy, policy, distribution, property, legal and business continuity, in a new BBC Operations division.

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